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Japan Drops To No. 3 World Economy, Thanks To Dismal 4th Quarter Performance

February 14, 2011: 03:09 AM EST

China is now the world’s second biggest economy after the U.S., as fourth-quarter economic and political problems took their toll on former No. 2 Japan's year-long performance: a strong yen dampened exports; real gross domestic product slid by 1.1 percent; car purchases dropped with the end of government subsidies; and cigarette sales were bashed by a new tax on tobacco. Adding to the pressure on the Japanese government were a huge public debt, protracted deflation and low approval ratings. China’s economy has overtaken Japan’s several times during individual quarters, but this is the first time it has jumped ahead based on full-year performance. Despite the poor showing in the fourth quarter, Japan’s real GDP actually expanded by 3.9 percent for the year.

Andrew Monahan, "China Overtakes Japan as World's No. 2 Economy", Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2011, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Easy-To-Use Technology Uses Ultrasound, Organic Acids To Sanitize Organic Produce

February 14, 2011: 10:53 AM EST
U.S. researchers have developed a technology using ultrasound and organic acids to reduce E. coli and two other strains of foodborne bacteria (Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes) on organic fresh lettuce. The treatment involves submersion of the lettuce – and potentially other types of produce – in an ultrasound tank that contains small amounts of malic, lactic and citric acids. The researchers believe the easy-to-use technique could be adapted for use by food processors to sanitize most types of fresh produce. They hope to ramp up the technology for applicability on a larger scale for industrial organic food applications.
Chelsea Low, "WSU Researchers Find Better Way to Protect Organic Produce Consumers", News release, Washington State University, February 14, 2011, © Washington State University
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Review Says More Work Needed On Heat-Resistant Chocolate

February 11, 2011: 06:03 AM EST
A study that reviewed existing methods of producing heat-resistant chocolate revealed three main ways of increasing the melting temperature of chocolates: enhancing the microstructure of materials used, adding a polymer, or adding non-conventional ingredients including high melting fats and surfactants. Each has downsides, such as an increase in viscosity due to incorporation of water. Also, chocolate manufacturing standards limit the ability of manufacturers to add ingredients. The reviewers said more work is needed to find a way to produce, simply and cheaply, chocolate that is more resistant to melting.  
T.A. Stortz, A.G. Marangoni , "Heat Resistant Chocolate", Trends in Food Science & Technology, February 11, 2011, © Elsevier Ltd.
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Chocolate Makers Battle Cocoa Price Inflation With, Well, Product Inflation

February 11, 2011: 01:45 AM EST
With cocoa prices up 18 percent since November 2010 – thanks to political unrest in top producer Ivory Coast – chocolate makers Nestlé SA and Barry Callebaut AG have begun to inflate their chocolate products with air to save money. Besides reducing production costs, air bubbles make chocolate confections creamier, more “textured” and lower in calories, according to chocolatiers. In the past, refined sugar was added to products to offset higher cocoa prices but sugar, too, is now more expensive. Nestlé will spend about $24 million in 2011 to market its air bubble-filled Aero chocolate in the U.K. and Ireland. Barry Callebaut is debuting airy “textured” fillings such as Tintoretto, with dark cocoa and caramel flavors. The company also hopes to use less cocoa in processing by creating more intensely flavored chocolate.
Tom Mulier , "Chocolate Makers Find Recipe for Profits by Adding Air to Bars", Bloomberg, February 11, 2011, © Bloomberg L.P.
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U.S. Introduction Of Japanese Blended Tea Surpasses Coca-Cola’s Expectations

February 10, 2011: 10:32 AM EST
Coca-Cola Co. has introduced in the U.S. a modified version of an unsweetened Japanese blended tea originally targeted at the women’s health-and-beauty market in Japan. Sokenbicha is being tested without fanfare at Whole Foods Market – where a 15.2 oz. bottle sells for $1.99 – as a no-calorie alternative to plain water. Coca-Cola reformulated the original 15-ingredient Japanese version of the drink to eliminate some exotic components – like the herb lizard’s tail – that bothered U.S. regulators. The 17-year-old Sokenbicha is the blended-tea market leader in Japan, where the category represents four percent of the non-alcoholic beverage market. Coke said Sokenbicha sales through Whole Foods have exceeded expectations, but has not revealed whether it plans to expand distribution.
Chester Dawson and Valerie Bauerlein, "Coke Tests Health-Tea Waters", wsj Online, February 10, 2011, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Chewing Gum Brands Now Offer More Than Fresh Breath And Fewer Cavities

February 9, 2011: 08:46 AM EST

Taking a leaf from the marketing book of energy drinks and breakfast cereals, some chewing gum makers have begun adding healthy-sounding ingredients like vitamin C and ginseng to their products. Stride and Trident from Cadbury promise greater alertness or wellness. Stride Spark, for example, says it provides 25 percent of the RDA of vitamins B-6 and B-12, while creating a tingling sensation in the mouth. Vitality, a sub-brand of gum market-leading Trident, offers flavors that contain vitamin C, ginseng and mint and white tea but, except for the vitamin C, does not claim to provide health benefits. A blogger who reviews chewing gum said the Vitality Awaken brand was “easy on the taste buds,” but the ginseng ingredient is a “gum gimmick, pure and simple.”

Andrew Adam Newman, "New Gums With Vitamins, Herbs and Varied Claims", NY Times, February 09, 2011, © The New York Times Company
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“Human Social Network” Still Most Important When Shoppers Consider New Products

February 9, 2011: 02:34 AM EST

A nationwide survey of 60,000 consumers conducted by market research firm TNS has found that four out of every five shoppers are open to trying new products, while 68 percent said a consumer-voted award was a better recommendation for a new product than the opinion of an expert. The insights from the survey were presented at the 2011 Product of the Year USA awards, where innovation across 22 product categories was recognized by the surveyed shoppers. Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert noted that consumers are smarter and spend more intelligently than ever before and, despite the growth of product reviews shared on mobile devices and social networks, “it is still the ‘human’ social network that is the most powerful.”

"The Most Innovative Consumer Packaged Goods of 2011 Revealed at Last Night’s Product of the Year USA Awards Ceremony", News release, Product of the Year USA, February 09, 2011, © Product of the Year USA
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French Connection And Dove Set Up Facebook Stores in UK

February 9, 2011: 01:27 AM EST
French Connection and Dove have set up Facebook stores in the UK through which users of the social network can buy their products. French Connection’s Facebook store, to be launched by end of February, will allow users who follow its Facebook page to buy items directly from its news feed. On the other hand, Dove’s Facebook store, to be rolled out globally later this year, has enabled Amazon-powered ecommerce on its Facebook page. French Connection said it will feature its most popular selections and proactively sell its brand to users without spamming them. Dove will let users search and add products to a shopping basket in Facebook and complete the purchase in Amazon.  UK research suggests a small percentage of brands and retailers experimenting with social commerce. A survey by One Iota of brands in the IMRG/Hitwise Top 100 found that while 65% have a fan page, just 4% had integrated shopping functionality. 
Charlotte McEleny , "French Connection and Dove start selling on Facebook", new media age, February 09, 2011, © new media age
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Consumer Interest In Digital Coupons Continues Strong Growth

February 8, 2011: 02:27 AM EST

A trend report issued by the Coupons.com network says that “issued” digital coupon savings grew by 41 percent in 2010 to more than $1.2 billion. By contrast,coupons distributed in newspapers grew only seven percent. “Online savings as an industry is growing at a frenzied pace, and the digital coupons space is no exception,” said CEO Steven Boal, who noted that digital coupons are accessed via the Internet, social media, consumer electronics, mobile phones, etc. Other findings: digital coupon users are more affluent and better educated than users of newspaper coupons; and cereal was the most popular category, followed by yogurt, refrigerated dough, portable snacks and vegetables. “Consumer interest in savings is expected to remain steadfast,” the report notes, even as the economy improves.

"Digital Coupons Represent Fastest Growing Coupon Segment in 2010", News release, Coupons.com, February 08, 2011, © Coupons.com
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Lallemand Offers Yeast-Derived Antioxidant Ingredients For Nutricosmetics

February 3, 2011: 11:30 AM EST

Canada’s Lallemand Health Ingredients, a maker of various forms of yeast for dietary supplements and other applications, is taking full advantage of the growth in nutricosmetics in Western Europe by providing an array of  premium yeast-based minerals and vitamins for “beauty-from-within” products. The attractiveness of yeast-derived antioxidants was given a push when the health and beauty claims for selenium, zinc and B vitamins were recognized by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Lallemand’s Lalmin range of ingredients are suitable for food supplements promoting healthy skin, nails and hair, according to the company. The product LalminSe is based on inactivated whole cells of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast containing high levels of organically-bound selenium.

"Lallemand Health Ingredients to Address Nutricosmetics with Premium Yeast", Nutrition Horizon, February 03, 2011, © CNS Media BV
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The Cupcake Vogue Finds Fresh Life With A Los Angeles Caterer

February 3, 2011: 12:34 PM EST

Cupcakes have achieved renewed popularity in Los Angeles through the inspiration of Heirloom-LA, a caterer enjoying prosperity with its highly popular line of lasagna cupcakes. The success of the lasagna cupcakes keeps fifteen cooks busy in the Heirloom kitchens, according to co-owner and chef Matthew Poley, and has created a demand for new flavors of the party treats, which now come in twelve varieties, including macaroni and cheese, bologna, and short ribs. Poley said Heirloom sold 10,000 of the cupcakes in December and plans to expand its menu further as different ingredients become available with the changes in the seasons. The lasagna cupcakes can also be purchased frozen in a selection of Los Angeles stores and are available by mail order for New Yorkers through the company's website.

MARSHALL HEYMAN, "Next Up: Lasagna Cupcakes", wsj Online , February 03, 2011, © The Dow Jones Co
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Nestlé Targets Nutritional Needs Of Obese ICU Patients With Tube-Feeding Formula

February 3, 2011: 12:39 PM EST

Noting that the consensus of nutrition experts is that the unique nutritional needs of critically-ill obese people remain unmet, Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition has introduced a tube feeding formula designed specifically for that patient population. Tube feeding formulas often do not contain enough protein or micronutrients recommended for obese patients in intensive care units (ICUs). According to Nestlé, the result is that some patients are overfed, others are underfed and become malnourished, and others don’t have their nutritional needs assessed at all. Peptamen Bariatric tube feeding formula includes 37 percent of calories from 100 percent whey protein, enzymatically hydrolyzed to produce peptides. The lipid blend contains 50 percent medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) to improve formula tolerance.

"Nestlé introduces Peptamen Bariatric Formula for the critically-ill obese patient", News release, Nestlé, February 03, 2011, © Nestle
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Unilever Doubles Down On “Bigger, Better And Faster” Innovation And Sustainable Growth

February 3, 2011: 12:26 AM EST

Unilever is seeing benefits of its improved innovation process with 33% of sales coming from products launched in the last two years, a record for the company.  Mike Polk Unilever’s president of foods, home and personal care says that the “step change” in innovation means they are “doing things bigger, better and deploying them faster into more markets.”  The company is also aggressively supporting launches and increased marketing spend over 6% to €5.6bn last year, making the largest advertiser behind P&G. Unilever sees its commitment to sustainable growth and its plan to double sales without incrementally impacting the environment as driving its R&D effort. And in a marketing shift, the company will start to promote alongside its product brands its corporate brand which it sees as a trusted asset.

Rosie Baker, "Unilever commits to “bigger, better and faster” innovation", Marketing Week, February 03, 2011, © Centaur Communications Ltd
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Nestlé Subsidiary Acquires U.K. Medical Food Company

February 2, 2011: 12:34 PM EST

Nestlé Health Science has completed the acquisition of CM&D Pharma Ltd. (CM&D), a British company that develops medical foods and other products targeting patients with kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. CM&D is a portfolio company of venture capital fund Inventages Group. CM&D’s leading product, Fostrap, is a chewing gum for kidney patients with elevated levels of phosphate in the blood (hyperphosphatemia), which contributes to vascular calcification and an increased risk of cardiac mortality, as well as mineral and bone disorders. Clinical trials of Fostrap are ongoing, though preliminary data are promising, according to Nestlé.

"Nestlé Health Science to develop dietary solution for kidney patients – CM&D acquisition", Nestle press release, February 02, 2011, © Nestle
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Market Surges As Americans Equate “Gluten-Free” With Healthier Eating

February 1, 2011: 11:48 AM EST

An online survey of buyers of gluten-free products has found that the main reason for purchasing is that gluten-free foods are thought to be healthier than conventional foods. According to market research firm Packaged Facts, tens of millions of Americans have reduced or eliminated wheat, barley, oats and rye from their diets, driving “the extraordinary surge in the market for gluten-free foods and beverages,” and not just among people with celiac disease or food allergies. The result has been an explosion of specialty food and beverage marketers who contributed to an industry  CAGR of 30 percent between 2006 and 2010, a total gluten-free market value of $2.6 billion in 2010 and a predicted $5 billion value by 2015.

"Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages in the U.S., 3rd Edition", Market report, Packaged Facts, February 01, 2011, © Packaged Facts
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Nestlé-General Mills Joint Venture Opens R&D Headquarters In Switzerland

February 1, 2011: 11:56 AM EST

Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW), the 20-year joint venture between Nestlé and General Mills, opened a new R&D center in Orbe, Switzerland. It will leverage Nestlé's R&D track record, General Mills's technical capabilities and both companies' food processing know-how to develop nutritional breakfast options for markets outside the US and Canada. CPW is currently the world's second-largest breakfast cereal manufacturer and employs 4,000 people, with around 80 in the new facility. CPW has reformulated its cereals, adding whole grain and fiber, and reducing salt and sugar content. Both are members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance, which promotes balanced diets and healthy lifestyles.

Nestle, "CPW opens new Innovation Centre in Switzerland", Nestle press release, February 01, 2011, © Nestle
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Tea Producer Adds Chocolate Variety To Family Of Organic Products

February 1, 2011: 10:37 AM EST

U.S.-based loose leaf teas and tea brewing products provider The Tea Spot has added a chocolate tea to its line of 15 certified organic loose leaf teas that include Pu'erh, yerba maté, oolong, white, green and herbal. According to the company, handcrafted premium Chocolate "O" tea is microblended with a single estate black loose leaf tea and chocolate essence to provide chocolate aromas on a malty black tea base, with “hints of caramel and honey.” The company also markets patented tea serving and steeping products under the Steepware trademark.

"The Tea Spot Dips into Chocolate with the Release of its Newest Organic Loose Leaf Tea, Chocolate “O”", News release, The Tea Spot, February 01, 2011, © The Tea Spot
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Cleaning Products Are Increasingly Green, But Consumers Still Need To Be Wary

January 30, 2011: 04:38 AM EST

More than two thousand cleaning products, many using ingredients like vinegar and plant-based oils, now carry the EPA’s Design for the Environment seal, an indication of the gathering strength of the green and sustainable movement over the last two years. But consumers need to be aware that scores of cleaning products that claim to be nontoxic and good for the planet have not earned that seal. Eco-conscious consumers should also be alert to a company’s packaging and shipping methods. Cleaners often contain mostly water; shipping that extra weight wastes fuel and has a "lousy environmental impact," according to Joey Green, author of the book "Cleaning Magic." One solution? Concentrated cleaners and refillable packages, a trend that has already caught on in Europe.

Mary MacVean, "Green and clean", Orlando Sentinel, January 30, 2011, via Chicago Tribune, © Tribune Newspaper
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Barry Callebaut Launches New Line Of Textured Chocolate Fillings

January 30, 2011: 09:12 AM EST

Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest producer of fine cocoa and chocolates, hopes to entice customers with its new line of textured products, to be introduced at ISM 2011. The innovations reflect the current industry interest in using texture to produce additional taste sensations. New products include caramelized nuts, crispy biscuits, and fluffy, aerated fillings that offer texture and novelty advantages alongside taste and flavor. They are low in trans fats, have a long shelf life, and contain fewer calories by volume.

Press Release, Barry Callebaut, "Barry Callebaut unveils a whole new world of decorations, inclusions and fillings", Barry Callebaut, January 30, 2011, © Barry Callebaut
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The Key Elements Of A Successful Sustainability Strategy

January 28, 2011: 09:28 PM EST

A successful sustainability strategy encompasses several major elements, according to Dr. Sally Uren,  deputy chief executive at Forum for the Future. As evidence of global climate change mounts, so does the pressure on organizations to innovate with a focus specifically on low-carbon goods, services and markets. Sustainability must be embedded in the core business strategy as a “must have,” rather than a “nice to have,” organizational principle. To be effective, a sustainability strategy must evaluate risks and opportunities at every point in the supply chain to reduce exposure to environmental and social shocks. The strategy must place customers – whether businesses or consumers – at the heart and feature an ongoing dialogue that helps create new products and services. And lastly, a successful strategy will outline all biodiversity risks and opportunities.

Dr. Sally Uren, "Five must-haves for a successful sustainability strategy in 2011", guardian.co.uk, January 28, 2011, © Guardian News and Media Limited
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H&M Turns Leftover Clothing Into A New Product Line

January 28, 2011: 09:38 PM EST

Swedish clothing supplier H&M – stung by a PR fiasco when word got out that it had trashed unsold clothing in New York City – has developed a new line called Waste, assembled from unsold pieces from its Lanvin collection. The initiative is innovative because millions of tons of leftover textiles are either discarded in landfills or end up in second-hand stores. A movement toward recycling, however, is gaining momentum. Speedo, for example, recently turned over 18,000 swimsuits to a designer who specializes in textile recycling. Orsola de Castro turned the LZR Racer suits, banned by the competitive swimming governing body Fina, into cocktail dresses after figuring out how to sidestep the Speedo logo problem. "In terms of sustainability there is nothing more advanced than this," de Castrol said.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman, "H&M Creates Clothing Line Made Out of Unsold Merch", TriplePundit, January 28, 2011, © TriplePundit
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Naturas Balances Sustainability, Aesthetics, and Functionality In Its Product Packaging

January 27, 2011: 03:02 AM EST

Leading Brazilian beauty products manufacturer and direct seller Naturas shared in an interview how it balances sustainability, aesthetics, and functionality in the way it packages its products. It uses eco-design concepts with the help of a design agency and produces the design with packaging suppliers using sustainability concepts. It manufactures most of its packages in Brazil and now works on including more sustainability aspects in its packaging and on creating sensory experiences, while maintaining luxurious appeal.

Jamie Matusow, "Natura’s Balancing Act", Beauty Packaging, January 27, 2011, © Rodman Publishing
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Woodland Strawberry DNA Sequence Should Result In Hardier, Healthier Fruit

January 26, 2011: 06:28 PM EST

An international effort led by the University of Florida and Virginia Tech has just published the genome sequence for the woodland strawberry—a wild, less genetically complex relative of the familiar cultivated strawberry. Knowing the strawberry’s DNA sequence will give breeders the ability to grow plants that produce more fruit with less environmental impact. This will also allow them to create fruit that is more resistant to environmental stresses and has higher levels of healthful phytochemicals. In addition, unlocking the strawberry’s genome sequence may result in advances in related crops, such as apples, peaches, almonds, cherries, raspberries, and plums.

Vladimir Shulaev, Daniel J Sargent et al, "The genome of woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca)", Nature Genetics, January 26, 2011, © Nature Publishing Group, Open Access
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Walmart Launches Major Healthy, Affordable Foods Program, Gets First Lady's Support

January 25, 2011: 09:35 PM EST

Walmart has launched a program aimed at providing its customers with healthy and affordable food options that gained the support of First Lady Michelle Obama. The program comes with five key components, namely: reformulation of packaged food items by cutting sodium 25% and added sugars by 10%, and removing all manufactured trans fats; cutting prices of fresh fruits and vegetables; strengthening standards for "front-of-package seal" to help consumers determine healthy food choices; opening stores to serve economically disadvantaged communities that need healthy and affordable foods; and expansion of corporate support for nutrition education campaigns. Walmart’s initiative will have far reaching affects across the US food supply chain In 2010, Walmart launched a $2 billion program to work against hunger by awarding fresh and healthy foods to food banks in the United States. Walmart will also work with the Partnership for a Healthier America to help address the country's obesity problem.

"Walmart Launches Major Initiative to Make Food Healthier and Healthier Food More Affordable", Walmart Stores, January 25, 2011, © Walmart Stores
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Procter & Gamble Announces Renewable Energy Investments In Germany And The Netherlands

January 26, 2011: 03:07 AM EST

Procter & Gamble plans to install a wind turbine at the company's pet care product site in Coevorden, the Netherlands, and install solar panels at its personal care plant in Cologne, Germany. Wind power will meet about 17 percent of the factory's annual energy needs, producing some 5,500 megawatt hours of energy every year. Procter & Gamble also plans to install solar panels in other factories in the region, with the initial installation supplying about 796 megawatt hours each year. These announcements come as part of P&G’s goal to power plants with 100% renewable energy and, by 2020, goal to power plants with 30% renewable energy.

"PROCTER & GAMBLE EXPANDS RENEWABLE ENERGY PORTFOLIO", Procter & Gamble, January 26, 2011, © The Procter & Gamble
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Online Indian Health Food Store Designed To Save Shoppers Time

January 24, 2011: 11:25 AM EST

An innovative online store named Health Rush, based in Bangalore, India, offers a range of healthy products for those who lack the time to shop at conventional health food stores. Products are organized by brands, categories and health concerns, e.g., diabetes, pregnancy or heart problems. Categories include baby foods such as organic milk-based supplements, berries and breakfast cereals (some of which are high in carbohydrates, despite the “healthy” claim). Also offered are green tea-based beverages (but no herbal teas), grains like quinoa and brown rice, flavored whey protein shakes, wheatgrass powder, nuts and seeds, snack items like pita chips, an array of flours (bajra, jowar, soya flour, ragi and sattu), pastas, roasted snacks, unrefined sugars and natural fruit bars. However, the store does not stock cheese, milk or meats.

Divya Guha, "Health Rush - Health food just a click away", Livemint, January 24, 2011, © HT Media
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School Lunch Suppliers Commit To Providing Healthier Meals To 30 Million Students

January 21, 2011: 12:17 PM EST

Thirteen school meals makers, group purchasing organizations and technology companies have partnered with  the Alliance for a Healthier Generation “to make healthier school lunches possible for more than 30 million students” at more affordable prices. According to the AHG, about 14 million of the affected students participate in the free and reduced lunch program. The partnership is part of an effort to combat childhood obesity that involves developing, marketing and competitively pricing products that will lead to healthier school meal options, a streamlined ordering process, and easier identification of healthy food options. Participants have committed to providing lean protein products such as lean red meat, skinless poultry, etc.; low-fat lunch entrées; whole-grain products; fresh, canned or frozen fruit; non-fried vegetables; and zero trans fat cooking oils.

"Groundbreaking Industry Agreements Help Increase Availability of Healthy School Meals", News release, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, January 21, 2011, © Alliance for a Healthier Generation
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Kellogg Revamps Global Marketing, Appoints Brand Learning To Manage Campaign

January 20, 2011: 10:23 PM EST

In the face of poor financial performance — its third-quarter net sales decreased 4% to $3.2 billion — Kellogg is investing to improve its marketing effort globally and has appointed Brand Learning to train Kellogg's marketing directors and senior marketing executives to help set up standards and common processes. Kellogg envisions the program, which will ultimately cover all of the company's marketing units, to improve its marketing capacity and business performance. Mark Baynes, Kellogg CMO, says He said: "We (are aiming) to create a team inspired, equipped and enabled to drive stronger returns in this increasingly complex consumer landscape."

Gemma Charles, "Kellogg unveils plan to boost global marketing", Marketing Magazine, January 20, 2011, © Haymarket
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Brazil's Packaged Food Market Now The World's Fifth Largest

January 20, 2011: 10:02 PM EST

Brazil's packaged food industry grew 44% from 2005 to R$176 billion (US$105 billion) in 2010, moving from eighth to become the fifth largest in the world. Euromonitor sees continued growth for five more years, backed by a strong agricultural production capacity and a growing consumer base that has attracted multinational companies to compete with domestic brands. In the past two years, the market has also seen significant mergers and acquisitions, improving the competitiveness of Brazilian companies. But the newer entrants, like General Mills, find it difficult to penetrate the market as consumers trust brands such as Nestle that have been in the market longer.

MARCEL MOTTA, "Brazil: Food Industry Boom", Latin Business Chronicle, January 20, 2011, © Latin Business Chronicle
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Antibacterial Paper Coated With Silver Nanoparticles Shows Potential As Food Packaging

January 18, 2011: 07:40 PM EST

Russian and Israeli scientists have developed and successfully lab-tested an antibacterial "killer paper" coated with silver nanoparticles that could be used as food packaging material. The paper helps preserve foods by fighting the bacteria that cause spoilage. Silver is currently used as a bacteria fighter in some medicinal ointments, on kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and even odor-resistant socks. Silver nanoparticles – each 1/50,000 the width of a human hair – are being tested as germ-fighting coatings for plastics, fabrics, and metals because they have a longer-lasting effect than larger silver particles. The silver nanoparticles-coated paper showed potent antibacterial activity against E. coli and S. aureus, two causes of bacterial food poisoning, killing all of the bacteria in just three hours.

Ronen Gottesman, et al. , "Sonochemical Coating of Paper by Microbiocidal Silver Nanoparticles", pubs.acs.org/Langmuir, January 18, 2011, © American Chemical Society
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Baumann Cosmetic And Research Institute Predicts Popularity Of Injectable Fillers, Botox, And Other Skin Treatments In 2011

January 19, 2011: 12:25 AM EST

Leslie Baumann of the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute has predicted some trends for skin treatments this year and beyond: new injectable dermal fillers, with new off-label uses; more Botox and Botox me-toos, also with new uses; a focus on sagging skin, with Ulthera ultrasound treatment challenging more invasive treatments; anti-aging skin care innovation targeting cells through DNA-based repair technology; new technology to reduce fat, including lasers and LipoSonix ultrasound treatment; new labels for shoppers to better understand sun-protection benefits; and new innovations from the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute. 

Leslie Baumann , "New skin care treatments for 2011", The Miami Herald, January 19, 2011, © Miami Herald Media Co.
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Supplements That Claim To Help Diabetics Control Blood Sugar Lack Scientific Proof

January 17, 2011: 11:05 AM EST

A large variety of dietary supplements promise to help Type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar, but experts warn that there’s virtually no scientific evidence backing the claims. Examples of products from alternative medicine companies include Sugar Crush, which contains herbs like common sage, cinnamon, hibiscus, etc., and Blood Sugar, whose main ingredients are cinnamon bark and chromium. A research chemist with the USDA has found some evidence that cinnamon and chromium do increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. But endocrinologist Dr. Daniel Einhorn of UC San Diego says there are only two proven, reliable ways to control blood sugar without using prescription medications: a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Chris Woolston, "Alternative treatments for diabetes -- do they work?", Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2011, © Los Angeles Times
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Small Increases In Folate Levels Are Enough To Reduce Folic Acid Deficiencies - Study

January 17, 2011: 09:05 PM EST

An Australian study has found that government-led folate promotion programs have reduced folate deficiency in the population with only small increases in overall folate intake. Scientific evidence has shown that adding the B vitamin folate to the diet of childbearing-age and pregnant women reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. This has led to government-sponsored efforts to encourage women of childbearing age to supplement their daily intake of folate. Australia implemented food standards calling for fortification of bread flour with folic acid. However, there is continuing concern that excess folic acid in the diet may increase the risk of cancer and heart disease and mask vitamin B12 deficiency. But the study found that ”relatively minor” increases in blood folate levels “have led to an impressive reduction” in folate deficiency in Australia.

Ross D Brown, et al. , "The impact of mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid on the blood folate levels of an Australian population", The Medical Journal of Australlia, January 17, 2011, © The Medical Journal of Australlia
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Unilever And Paques Build Bio-Digester At Ben & Jerry's Factory In The Netherlands

January 14, 2011: 10:55 AM EST

Unilever and Paques began building a bio-digester at the former's Ben & Jerry ice cream factory in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands. Paques' BIOPAQ AFR bio-digester purifies wastewater and converts waste products, such as from milk and syrup production, into biogas in one step.  Unilever made the investment as part of its Sustainable Living Plan and it is one of the first companies to use this bio-digester that applies an innovative approach of treating wastewater streams that contain fat and oil together with degradable particles all in one reactor. The process relies on over 24 billiard (24*10^15) micro-organisms to digest the waste and the plant will begin operating mid-2011 and supply up to 40 percent of the factory's green energy requirements.

Paques , "Unilever's ice cream factory in Holland to derive green energy from wastewater", Paques press release, January 14, 2011, © Paques
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Broccoli’s Anti-Cancer Effect Enhanced By Proper Cooking And By Eating With Sprouts

January 13, 2011: 09:48 AM EST

U.S. scientists have found that cooking broccoli properly, and eating it along with broccoli sprouts, doubles the vegetable’s potent anti-cancer effect. Over-cooking broccoli destroys the enzyme myrosinase, necessary for the formation of sulforaphane, a cancer-preventative and anti-inflammatory compound. Broccoli powder supplements do not contain myrosinase at all. The researchers conducted a small study involving four healthy men who ate meals with myrosinase-rich broccoli sprouts alone, broccoli powder alone, or a combination of the two. Levels of sulforaphane metabolites in the blood and urine were measured after eating. Three hours later, a twofold increase in sulforaphane absorption was detected when sprouts and powder were eaten together. As to cooking broccoli, the best method is steaming for two to four minutes to protect both the enzyme and the vegetable's nutrients, researchers said.

Jenna M. Cramer and Elizabeth H. Jeffery, "Sulforaphane Absorption and Excretion Following Ingestion of a Semi-Purified Broccoli Powder Rich in Glucoraphanin and Broccoli Sprouts in Healthy Men ", Nutrition and Cancer, January 13, 2011, © Routledge
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Orlando Baking Launches Line Of Whole Wheat Breads With Probiotics

January 13, 2011: 04:39 AM EST

Orlando Baking Company has launched True Grains, a line of whole wheat breads made with ingredients that include probiotics, which help ensure digestive health. The products, Honey Wheat and Seed'licious, include GanedenBC30®, a probiotic from Ganeden Biotech. Initially, Heinen's Fine Foods stores will sell the kosher-certified breads on an exclusive basis. In 1987, Orlando Baking introduced European-style ciabatta bread to U.S. consumers, and the company is hoping to tap the growing US market for probiotic products, now worth over $1 billion a year. 

Press Release, Orlando Baking Company, "Orlando Baking Company Rolls Out North America's First Probiotic Bread Line", PRWeb, January 13, 2011, © Vocus PRW Holdings, LLC
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Transgenic Chickens Could Stop Spread Of Bird Flu Outbreaks

January 13, 2011: 10:42 AM EST

British scientists have developed genetically modified chickens that are incapable of transmitting avian influenza virus to other chickens in a flock, an advance that could stop the spread of bird flu outbreaks. It would also reduce the risk of bird flu epidemics becoming new flu epidemics among humans. To produce the transgenic chickens, the scientists introduced a new gene that manufactures a "decoy" molecule that mimics a key control element of the flu virus, thus tricking the replication mechanism of the virus into recognizing the decoy instead of the viral genome. This process interrupts the replication cycle of the virus. The transgenic chickens who were infected with avian flu became sick, but did not transmit the infection to chickens kept in the same pen, researchers noted.

Jon Lyall, et al. , "Suppression of Avian Influenza Transmission in Genetically Modified Chickens", Science, January 13, 2011, © American Association for the Advancement of Science
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Vending Machine Industry Goes Natural, Organic – And Just Plain Healthier

January 12, 2011: 03:49 AM EST

A new era in vending machine technology and marketing has arrived, as established vending machine companies offer healthier snacks, while start-ups launch new machines selling natural and organic yogurt and granola bars, gluten-free products and fresh fruit. Schools, fitness clubs and office buildings are seeing their old machines – stuffed with sugar-sweetened sodas and snacks packed with trans-fats, high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils – replaced by the new equipment. The new healthy vending machine sector comprises small, locally-owned businesses, so their sales have not yet registered in tallies of the $30 billion vending industry. But one industry expert expects "exponential" growth reflecting that of the natural foods and organic industry. And big snack and beverage companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are revamping their machine-vendable products to meet demand for healthier, more nutritious foods.

Jennifer Alsever, "No Twinkies? Vending machines go organic", msnbc.com , January 12, 2011, © msnbc.com
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Grocery Chains, Mass-Market Stores Gaining Ground In Organic Food Market

January 12, 2011: 03:40 AM EST

Noting that reports that organic product purchases are growing in the U.S. are “fallacious,” market research firm TABS Group says the proportion of American consumers buying organic products in 2010 was in the 38-39 percent range, the same percentage as in the prior two years. Though growth was flat, TABS found a shift in purchasing outlet patterns away from natural foods stores toward mass market stores. The “big winners” in organic product sales were traditional grocery chains and Target; losers were Walmart, Trader Joe's and natural foods retailers. Natural foods stores dropped nine percent from being the most preferred outlet. Fresh fruits remained the highest penetration category for organics at 27 percent of consumers, followed by fresh vegetables (26 percent), eggs (17 percent), and milk (16 percent).

Dr. Kurt Jetta, "Organic Product Consumer Base Holds Steady; Volume Shifting to Mass Market Retailers", News release, TABS Group, January 12, 2011, © Tabs Group
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Agriculture Policy Group Urges Congress To Make Health A Priority In New Farm Bill

January 10, 2011: 03:41 PM EST

An organization that promotes fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems in the U.S. is calling on the new leadership in Congress to make health a priority in writing the next Farm Bill. Healthy Food Action, a project involving national health leaders within the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, has created a “Charter for a Healthy Farm Bill” calling for a food system that incorporates health into the whole lifecycle of production, processing, consumption and disposal. According to the IATP, “Such a food system must protect the environment as well as ensure farmers and workers are fairly compensated. The charter’s principles emphasize a food system that is healthy, sustainable, resilient, fair, diverse, economically balanced and transparent.” Congress is expected to begin work on the five-year Farm Bill this year.

Ben Lilliston, "Health leaders call for healthy Farm Bill", News release, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, January 10, 2011, © IATP
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Whole Foods Launches Healthy Eating Marketing Campaign In Its Stores

January 10, 2011: 10:57 AM EST

Whole Foods Market has launched a healthy eating promotional campaign called “Health Starts Here” in its 303 stores. The program offers products, education, practical tools and wellness resources to promote healthy lifestyles, the company says. Four key principles underlie the program: eating whole, fresh, natural and organic foods; incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes into every meal; eating nutrient-dense foods that pack more nutrients per calorie; and consuming healthy fats from whole plant foods like nuts, avocados and seeds. The program is being implemented in a variety of departments, with a special emphasis on prepared foods, bakery, and frozen vegetables. According to Margaret Wittenberg of Whole Foods, “’Health Starts Here’ can help turn New Year’s resolutions into long-term health and wellness solutions.”

"Turn New Year’s resolutions into long-term solutions", News release, Whole Foods Market, January 10, 2011, © Whole Foods Market
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Outlook For Global Bakery Products Market Is Rosy, But Challenges Remain

January 10, 2011: 11:27 AM EST

Driven by an increasing emphasis on breakfast foods and single-serve, on-the-go bakery products, the global bakery products market will total $410 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts (GIA). The demand for industrial bakery products is bound to surge over the long term, GIA said, spurred by busy consumers. Also bolstering the market will be continuous demand from developing countries for bread/rolls, morning goods and sweet biscuits. These healthy increases in demand present solid opportunities for baked goods companies, GIA said, but the continuing slow economy also presents challenges that are forcing industry changes. Both U.S. and European bakeries are experiencing weaker demand for traditional baked goods, but that trend is offset by rising demand for bite-sized sweet goods, on-the-go breads, between-meal snacks and easy-to-carry sandwiches.

"Global Bakery Products Market to Reach US$410 Billion by 2015, According to a New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.", News release, Global Industry Analysts, January 10, 2011, © GIA
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Grocery Retailer Sees Bright Future For Scandinavian Foods In U.K.

January 9, 2011: 11:19 AM EST

British retail grocery chain Waitrose says a market study it commissioned has found an increasing interest among Britons in Scandinavian foods. According to the company, Scandinavian foods such as oats and wholegrains, berries, vegetables, oil-rich herring and salmon, hard cheese, poultry and lean meat, could be “the hottest U.K. culinary trend of 2011,” thanks to the popularity of Scandinavian fiction (e.g., Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and the Wallender TV series. But Britons are also attracted to Scandinavian cuisine, Waitrose says, because of its simplicity and use of “pared-down, high quality ingredients.” Waitrose is acting on the study’s insights by store-testing testing Swedish foods such as Västerbottensost cheese, Leksandsbröd crisp bread, Swedish Kitchen Organic Meatballs and lingonberry jam over the next few months.

"Could herrings and Västerbottensost rival pizza and pasta as Britain develops a taste for Scandinavian food?", News release, Waitrose, January 09, 2011, © Waitrose
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Target Partners With EcoSet To Make Commercial Shoots Environment-Friendly

January 10, 2011: 01:54 AM EST

Retail company Target has partnered with two-year old “green company” EcoSet Consulting to make its commercial shoots environment-friendly by recycling or composting production waste, using solar power, and using bio-degradable materials. Target aims to make 90% of its commercials “green” with the help of EcoSet and claims to have cut down its broadcast shoot waste in Los Angeles by 85% or 100,016 pounds. It opted for reusable bottles instead of plastic ones, donated reusable materials, costumes and a swing set, and reused a foam watering can as an art installation.

Natalie Zmuda and Andrew Hampp , "When It Comes to Commercials, Target, Others Keep It Green", Advertising Age, January 10, 2011, © Crain Communications
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Stonyfield Launches Their Grant-a-Wish Program To Help Organic Farmers With Innovative Projects

January 6, 2011: 10:04 AM EST

Stonyfield and Organic Valley, two of America's leading organic suppliers, have started the Stonyfield Organic Farmers Grant-a-Wish Program to offer organic farmers grants to improve their farms. Stonyfield's goal is to help small organic farmers and raise awareness through their "organic stories initiative". The contest has been narrowed down from 72 to 6 competitors and online consumer votes will determine how to award the $31,000 in grants. Finalists' projects range from walk-through flytraps to ponds and had to be creative, environmentally friendly, and sustainable.

Press Release, Stonyfield Farm, "Stonyfield Announces Organic Farmers Grant-a-Wish Program", PRNewswire, January 06, 2011, © PRNewswire
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UK University Is Developing Smart Packaging To Provide Information On Product Freshness

January 6, 2011: 10:20 AM EST

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde are developing a new form of plastic packaging that will tell consumers about a product’s freshness, through color changes in the plastic, and help reduce the 8.3 million tons of food the U.K. throws away each year. The aim is to develop intelligent plastic packaging, removing the need for the expensive freshness labels currently in use. The Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Programme provided £325,000 in funding as part of its support for new ideas to launch small companies.

News Release, University of Strathclyde, "Packaging that knows when food is going off", University of Strathclyde, January 06, 2011, © University of Strathclyde
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Company Unveils Promotional Campaign For Flavored Milks With Fewer Calories, Less Sugar

January 6, 2011: 10:27 AM EST

Dean Foods and its local and regional dairies have launched a “Start Right End Right” promotional campaign for their line of flavored milks that have been reformulated with 10-15 percent fewer calories and 20-25 percent less sugar. The campaign, which is “geared toward helping families make wholesome milk part of everyday nutrition,” offers tips and facts at the Web site (www.StartRightEndRight.com) and on Facebook. As part of the campaign, the company has created a national sweepstakes offering families a top prize of $25,000, plus a $5,000 prize for a school of their choice. The company’s flavored milk products contain 150 calories and 22 grams of sugar per serving, in addition to being low-fat. A fat-free version is also available, according to the company.

"Turn Over a Nutritious New Leaf: 'Start Right, End Right' With White and Chocolate Milk", News release, Dean Foods, January 06, 2011, © Deans Foods
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California Organic Rice Producer’s Warehouse Is Now 100% Solar Powered

January 5, 2011: 09:52 AM EST

Organic rice and rice products producer Lundberg Family Farms has opened a 37,558-foot warehouse powered completely by solar energy. The warehouse uses 1,690 solar panels at the facility in Richvale, Calif. The company says the panels will produce 500,000 kilowatts of electricity, more than enough to power the building. According to the company, 20 percent of the electricity it consumes comes from solar energy. By purchasing renewable energy credits to offset the rest, the company can claim its energy use is 100 percent green. The warehouse was built to U.S. Green Building Council’s certification standards and is designed to capture and filter storm water runoff. It features high-efficiency water conservation fixtures such as dual flush water closets, waterless urinal and electronic faucets that reduce water by 39 percent, saving 15,625 gallons annually.

"Lundberg Family Farms powers new warehouse with solar energy", News release, Lundberg FamilyFarms, January 05, 2011, © Lundberg FamilyFarms
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Experts Offer Advice On Preventing Food Safety Calamities

January 5, 2011: 02:39 PM EST

Food safety practices within an organization can be a significant risk factor in causing, or preventing, foodborne illness, according to a new U.S. study. Kansas State University professor Doug Powell says the way businesses and organizations operate above and beyond minimal food safety regulations and inspections – their “food safety culture” – is often overlooked. For the study, Powell and colleagues analyzed three food safety breakdowns: an E. coli outbreak in Wales in 2005, a listeria outbreak in Canada in 2008, and a salmonella outbreak in the U.S. in 2009 linked to peanut paste that killed nine and sickened 691. Key lessons derived? Food producers, restaurants and others should know the risks associated with their products, how to manage them, and most important, how to communicate with and compel staff to employ good practices.

Doug Powell, et al. , "Enhancing Food Safety Culture to Reduce Rates of Foodborne Illness", Food Control, January 05, 2011, © Food Control
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U.K. Smartphone App Helps People Identify Allergenic Food Ingredients

January 4, 2011: 07:12 PM EST

A small British software company has developed an app for the iPhone that makes it easy to determine whether a food or ingredient contains allergenic ingredients. The app – known as IsItInIt – uses barcode-reading technology and the smartphone’s camera to determine the ingredients on more than 85,000 food products. Nutritionists see the advance as a major breakthrough for Britons who suffer from food allergies. To make the technology work, users enter details of their allergic condition, including specific offending foods and ingredients, at a Web site. The site’s database then synchs up with the app on the phone. A red warning signal is transmitted to the user as soon as the bar code is scanned into the phone. About 45 percent of Britons – 25 million people – suffer from food intolerances.

Jasmine Malone, "Got a food allergy? There's an app for that", Telegraph.co.uk, January 04, 2011, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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